Lady Aster

New England Aster in Bloom

Most of my seed collection is complete for the season. The New England Aster, Aster novae-angliae, a tall, vibrant purple, late blooming forb has provided it’s nectar as sustenance for the bees and migrating, monarch butterflies. Now in early November, the regal beauty is providing me with a bounty of seeds for harvesting. Usually, after collecting the seeds, I will set them aside to thoroughly dry before bagging them for storage until spring planting.

Spent New England Aster Achenes

Dried New England Achene Head

I plan to plant my homegrown New England Aster plugs in waves on the upper shoreline of Bull Creek. They will help to act as a buffer in our ongoing creek restoration project. This should be an optimum location for them to grow, given that they thrive in habitats that have full to part sun and wet to mesic soil conditions. The New England Aster is amenable to natural stratification, but given the fact that I plan to install them on an erosion prone slope, successful germination would be unlikely. Plugs are definitely the way to go in this situation. In very early spring, after subjecting the seeds to a moist stratification process, I will plant these easy to grow seeds in flats and install them in their intended location when they possess three or more leaves. More information regarding native New England Aster growing conditions as well as  statewide and county specific distribution can be found on the United States Department of Agriculture: Natural Resources Conservation Service web page.  A table listing the stratification methods of choice for many plants native to Illinois can be found on the The Center for Biodiversity’s webpage.

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  1. A Jump Start to Spring « Prairie Piece: living in harmony with nature

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